Behind the Scenes with Bill Fink

Bill Fink won the award for Best Essay at this year’s Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference. “Reading Between the Arches” was published in the San Francisco Chronicle this Sunday. (Check out: “I’d like a Big Mac, a Coke and insight into Asian cultures”

I had dinner with Bill on Saturday night and got the inside scoop on his writing life before he won the award. Here’s the thing–Bill attended the conference last year. He definitely learned a good deal about getting into travel writing and had fun in the process. So, it was a little surprising to see Bill again this year, wearing another name tag. But he praised the ability to strengthen contacts, when last year he was focused on tips to the trade.

My favorite submission story from Bill was when he pitched the Chicago Tribune. He got an immediate reply that said two words…”Don’t need.” Bill’s reaction was “well, at least that’s a clear answer. and prompt.”

This is not only funny, but it’s good for all of us to know the variety of rejection styles out there and not to take them personally. Wear your thick skins, troops. It’s character building time.




So, Bill sent in “Reading Between the Arches” to the Chronicle. This time, hard copy. A month later he got a response from Jeanne Cooper saying that she’d like to run it this month and that they’d pay a $75 honorarium. When he went up to John Flinn at the conference he was a little surprised that John didn’t know about the acceptance. Then John explained that Jeanne is handling all of that while John travels and writes his column.

Another reality bites moment was when Bill was chatting up an anonymous editor at the conference. This person essentially blew him off. Until…Bill won the writing award. Then this unnamed editor came back to Bill saying he’d love to talk to him and see his work. Ha! Isn’t it crazy how this stuff works?

Bill is a trouper. Since the conference he’s pounded out even more content to submit. I’ll be joining his writers group next week and I’m sure I’ll be impressed.

You can find out more about Bill on his website, or why not check out the stories he’s had on